We like to think of our home as a safe haven and place of comfort. However, the feeling of security goes beyond just the emotional component. Your home needs to be physically safe, too. As parents age, making sure their homes have the proper safety features installed and maintained should be a priority.
Accidental home injuries happen more often than you may think and should not be taken lightly. According to research done by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the most common place for injuries is in the home, accounting for 54% of female injuries and 42% of male.
Equipping your loved one’s living area with the proper necessities will help ensure that they can safely navigate around their home with minimal risk of injury.
Below is a guideline of basic features that should be present in their living space at all times.
Railings and Bars
Falls are the most common cause of home injury. In places where balance and stability is threatened, adding a railing or hold bar can make a world of difference.
Rule of thumb: Where there are stairs, there should be a railing.
Stairs that stretch to another floor should have a full-length railing that is accessible at any point in the stairwell.
Don’t be stingy with safety! If there are more than two stairs, add a railing.
Take my grandparent’s back deck for example. The deck is elevated off the ground by a couple feet, and if you’re entering from the yard, you must climb a few wooden steps. Alongside the stairs, my grandpa installed a small railing for people to grab if necessary.
It may sound silly to have a railing for such a small number of stairs, but I can say from personal experience that I am grateful for my grandpa’s railing. You can never be too safe!
Another space within the home where stability can be compromised is in the shower. With just a moment of lost balance, your loved one can easily slip and find themself with a pretty substantial injury. Installing a grab bar will decrease their risk of injury as it provides a lending hand if they lose their balance.
Having lighting throughout the home may seem like common sense. However, making sure they have the proper lighting in all parts of their home is a whole other issue.
Not only should main rooms have bright lighting, but so should all foyers, staircases, hallways, and closets.
If they have poor lighting when reaching for something on the top shelf of a closet or pantry, they can easily knock other things over, which could possibly come crashing down on them.
One of my grandpa’s favorite and most-used household tools is a grabber, an extender that increases your range of reach. A grabber is an adjustable rod with a handle on one end for you to hold and a pair of jaws at the other for when you’re grabbing something.
The tool is most handy when reaching something high or out of reach. Of course, to see what you’re trying to grab, you need sufficient lighting.
Having well-lit spaces, no matter how small, will help your loved ones to get a sense of their surroundings so that they can act/move in the least-risky fashion.
Rugs and Mats
Rugs can be quite dangerous when they’re simply laid down on a hardwood or prefabricated floor without any underlying adhesion. If they step on the rug the wrong way, it could slide and cause them to fall. It’s happened to me too often!
Whenever possible, I would suggest ditching area rugs. If they decide that they want/need a rug in their home, making sure the rug is fixed in place is crucial. Attaching double-sided tape to the rug before sticking it to the bare floor will secure the rug in place.
The one place to make sure they have a slip-free mat in place is in the shower. The floor of most showers is slippery to begin with, and once wet, they’re increasingly at risk to slip and fall. Non-slip mats will provide an anchor for them to feel grounded.
Similar to the way shower mats work, rubber sole slippers should be worn as they walk around their home so that their feet always have grip and stability to the ground.